Health Highlights: May 26, 2021

Brooks-LaSure Confirmed as CMS Head

Chiquita Brooks-LaSure was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Tuesday as the new head of the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Brooks-LaSure, an Obama-era policy adviser, will be the first Black person to lead the CMS, which also administers children's health insurance and the Affordable Care Act, the Associated Press reported.

Five Republicans joined Democrats in approving her nomination in a 55-44 vote.

During her confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, Brooks-LaSure paid homage to generations of Black women and men in public service who came before her.

"Too often, they weren't given the opportunity to live up to their full God-given potential," she said. "But their selfless, often silent, sacrifice paved the way for me and so many other women of color."

The 46-year-old has spent most of her career in government. She served in the White House budget office during the Republican administration of George W. Bush, and worked in Congress and at CMS in senior policy roles during the Obama years.

Throughout her career, Brooks-LaSure has worked on Medicaid policy, and that program has now grown to become a mainstay of coverage for many low-income working people.

Brooks-LaSure will play an important role in President Joe Biden's efforts to expand affordable coverage and control prescription drug costs, according to the AP.

Part of her portfolio will include reviewing -- and amending or rolling back -- a series of Trump administration changes to health insurance rules. Under Trump, the CMS tried to promote the sale of cheaper private insurance that offered less coverage than plans sold under the Affordable Care Act.

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